Portable Long Service Leave critical

As Australias jobs debate heats up, workers in the growing services sector say they are missing out on basic entitlements, and are calling on the Victorian Government to follow other states and introduce a portable long service leave scheme.

The Victorian Parliament’s Inquiry into Portable Long Service Leave will today hold a public hearing on introducing a Victorian scheme. Earlier this year United Voice made a submission to the inquiry and today its cleaning and security members will tell MP’s a scheme is critical to ensuring Victoria’s services sector has good, secure jobs.

At least 13 million Australians live in a state or territory where there is a portable long service leave scheme is in place.

A dozen unions and peak union bodies, as well as VCOSS and other community groups, are backing the push for a portable long service leave scheme for Victoria.

Cleaners and security officers, who are often employed at the one site for many years, face a revolving door of contractors. When contract changes occur, which can occur every few years - or shorter periods - these leave entitlements are erased.

A union survey of 450 workers found that the average length of service in security was 11.4 years. But just 26 per cent of those eligible had received long service leave.

“Australia has a crisis of insecure work that is hitting workers in cleaning and security hard. The absence of a portable long service leave scheme is making life even more precarious for these workers,” said Jess Walsh, Victorian Secretary of United Voice.

“When a new company wins a cleaning or security contract, workers at these sites can lose all their long service leave entitlements and sometimes, their jobs as well.”

“Most of these workers get just the award minimum. So if they lose their jobs there’s nothing to fall back on, despite often having worked for decades at the same site.”

“Cleaners and security officers provide essential services to the Victorian community, ensuring public areas are hygienic and safe. They deserve good, secure jobs and their long years of service should be recognised.”

“At least 13 million Australians live in a state or territory where there is a portable long service leave scheme is in place – it’s time Victoria caught up with the times.”

“As manufacturing haemorrhages jobs, more Victorians are shifting to the services sector. A portable long service leave scheme will help increase job security and help workers stay in these vital industries and plan for their future.”

ABS figures show that from 1983 to 2013 manufacturing’s share of employment fell by a third while property services and related industries grew by more than a third.

Department of Employment, 2014 Projections to November 2018 projects jobs in manufacturing to fall by 40,300 (or 4.3 per cent) over the next five years.

 Case Study 1: Richard Riley, NGV Security Officer

  • Security officer Richard Riley has worked at the National Gallery for 12 years and lost everything on three separate occasions – once coming within nine months of attaining long service leave before a contract change.
  • He lost around $4000 in entitlements.
  • If Richard had accrued long service leave for his full 12 years at the National Gallery, he would currently be entitled to 10.4 weeks of long service leave.
  • This entitlement is worth over $6,500 – a huge amount if you earn about a third of the average wage. 

Case Study 2: Helen Christoudas, Cleaner

  • Helen Christoudas has been a cleaner for 35 years and worked in two places.
  • Worked for 7 different companies in 14 years due to contract changes.
  • Wasn’t aware that entitlements were erased at each contract change.
  • Believed she could take long service when needed after such a long period of work at the same place.

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Read the story about this issue in the Age


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